Dear editor-in-chief Dr. Alexis Kouros,

Allow me to congratulate Helsinki Times and columnist Bruno Jäntti for the article published in your recent edition (20-26 February).

Rarely does a foreign columnist succeed to describe both the threats that endanger Israel and the way the State of Israel and its population, not only succeed in facing them, but also utilise the experience gathered, in order to assist other countries.

It is not a secret that since its establishment in 1948, Israel's existence has been threatened even by states of the region that don't even have a common border with it. One of these states that insists on its right to develop nuclear weapons also calls for the destruction of Israel. Moreover, this state finances, trains and supplies with weapons organisations like Hezbollah and Hammas whose declared goal is the destruction of the state of Israel.

It is on this background that Israel decided early in its history to develop its Defence Forces on the Swiss army's model of reserve soldiers. Actually, almost 75 per cent of Israel's Defence Forces are reserve soldiers. Finland itself has a similar model. We Israelis are very much aware of the threats to the existence of our country and the need to defend it. This explains the understanding shown by employers to their employees who are called in for reserve service.

The need to face challenges has been one of the catalysts to the development of Israel's industry. Israeli developments – civilian and military alike – are known for their originality and adaptation to needs. Just recently was the Israeli startup company WAZE – a socially based navigation system – bought by Google. Think of the computer "memory sticks" we're all using. They were also developed in Israel. It is no wonder therefore that also products like camouflage or communication systems, produced by Israeli companies, draw the interest of other armed forces around the world. They have proven themselves in difficult conditions, and have helped to protect lives and assist units in the field.

Thanks to Mr. Jäntti the readers of Helsinki Times were made aware of the ways in which Israel has succeeded to protect itself against all those who made it their goal to destroy it, and at the same time to develop a democratic and economically sound society.

Dan Ashbel
Ambassador of the State of Israel, Helsinki

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